Sunday 5th July, 2015
The modern day world is obsessed with size. We want the biggest, most spacious houses that money can buy and the equine industry is no exception. Of course bigger homes come at a greater cost, and with the ever increasing price of land many horse owners are finding that they have to compromise on their dream stable yard designs for a more realistic and cost effective solution.
Accommodation size is a vital factor in the welfare and well-being of your horse, as they can be stabled for a long period of time, particularly during the extremes of summer and winter, or following periods of illness or injury. Whether you are looking to design and build your own stables or rent a stable at your local livery yard, you need to carefully considering the size and building materials of your stable and its suitability to you and your horse. Your stable needs to be sturdy and made of strong, durable material that will withstand your equine as well as the elements.
A key feature to assess when choosing a stable for you horse is of course space. The current British Horse Society regulations are that horses require a stable measuring a minimum of 12ft x 12ft for horses, and preferably 12ft x 14ft for larger breeds. For ponies the recommended minimum stable size should be 10ft x 10ft, or 10ft x12ft for larger ponies. The height of the stable should be 9 – 11 feet, with a minimum of 3ft clearance of the roof, so you must also consider the height of the stable, and any low beams or light fixtures that could pose a problem.
When assessing stable size and height don’t forget to allow for bedding. Once bedded down, a stable can seem a great deal smaller and although high, deep banks are desirable to prevent a horse becoming caste in the stable, they can also decrease the floor space considerably. Stable matting will also slightly raise the floor of your stable, so this coupled with a deep litter bed can significantly reduce the overall height of your stable.
You will also need to consider where your feeding buckets, hay nets and water troughs are going to be placed to allow for easy access while maximising the available floor space. More compact stables may benefit from having wall mounted water and feeding troughs to keep the floor free for the horse to move around.
By nature, horses are extremely social animals that do well when stabled with others, particularly field mates who they will know and recognise. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to using busy working yards over quieter private ones, however your horse’s emotional wellbeing will certainly be improved if he is in the company of other horses and people. This is especially true of horses that are stabled for extended periods due to illness, injury or chronic conditions such as laminitis and sweet itch during the summer months.